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Rachel Sep 26th, 2002 02:44 AM

First time Aussie travellers
My boyfriend and I are heading to the U.S. in October next year. We are starting in New York City, heading down down to Washington DC and finally finishing our trip in Charleston. What is the cheapest way to travel between these places? I was told to stay clear of the buses, so what are the train services there called? Also, is this a good time of the year to visit these places?<BR>Thanks for any info!

Julie Sep 26th, 2002 03:31 AM

I would think that renting a car would be your best bet giving you addtional flexibility.<BR><BR>If you want to go with the train check out Amtrak Vacations - They have special rail passes valid for 15 or 30 days. You can go from NY to DC and then on to Charlston, SC with the train. If you have the rail pass you can get on and off as you please. October will be a nice time of year.

Ann Sep 26th, 2002 12:46 PM

Buses usually are the cheapest way between NYC and DC. Why were you told to stay away from them? Check out Greyhound buses. Some small group does a cheap NY-DC route, but I don't know the name. Maybe someone else does.<BR><BR>Sometimes you can get a cheap flight between NY and DC for about $100. Fly into National Airport in DC. It's the most convenient to the city, and the only airport from which you can take the Metro.<BR><BR>Amtrak is the train system, and it often is more expensive than planes, and sometimes slower than the bus. That said, I've taken the train from DC to NY, and it was about $160. It was convenient because you go from city to city, instead of having to take cabs from the airport into the city. <BR><BR>Otherwise, rental car is your best bet. But there usually are large drop-off charges if you're leaving the car in Charleston.

Ann Sep 26th, 2002 12:47 PM

And yes, October is a great time of year to visit all of those places. Weather should still be pleasant, and it won't be hot in Charleston, and not so many tourists.

Owen O'Neill Sep 26th, 2002 01:17 PM

Anyone seeking to travel long distances in the US is usually advise to go by train or plane as the long dostance trips on Greyhound or Trailways can be tiring and dull, often with numerous stops at urban bus stations in marginal neighborhoods or more often in areas with few amenities such as restaurants available. In many other countries there are "luxury coaches" available for bus travel that will feature TV's with movies and have clean bathrooms. This is not the case wiht greyhound 9although in their defense the bathrooms generallly start out clean). If you go by bus between major Northeastern cities there are options that go direct and are non-stop with decent buses. It's about 4 - 4 1/2 hours from NYC to DC - a very tolerable trip. There's a private company that has multiple charter buses every day running from NYC's Chinatown to DC - they're only $15 or $20 each way depending on time of day<BR><BR><BR><BR>If getting a rental car it may be cheaper to get it in NJ outside of NYC - Enterprise rentals has an office in NJ that is on an NJ Transit bus line about 20-25 minutes from Manhattan in Lyndhurst NJ. IMHO the train is a great option. Check Amtrak's website - not only are there passes available as mentioned, if I recall correctly there is a specially priced for non-US citizens who purchase it before their arrival. the trains depart and arrive in the city centers and a comfortable and relaxing way to travel. Check for details.<BR><BR>October is a great time of year. It's generally moderate temps during the day in NYC with cool nights and as you go further south it will be warmer. You might even see some leaves in their color change as you head south on the train.<BR>

joe Sep 26th, 2002 03:20 PM

If you want cheap then the bus is the way to go, just make sure you are well armed! The bus system in America is extremely unsafe and most of the terminals are located in the worst sections of town.<BR><BR>Spend the extra money and take the train, fly, or drive. If you only plan on spending time in the cities you mentioned, the train or flying is the best option. But if you have additional time renting a car is the way to go. It will give you the flexibility to see more than just three big cities.

Owen O'Neill Sep 26th, 2002 03:41 PM

I'll respectfully disagree with Joe on his apparently meant-to-be-humorous remark about "being armed". Buses are the cheapest form of long distance transport in the US and as such they will often have some passengers from lower socio-economic classes. YOu can expect a wode range of people on buses ranging from families with young children to students to senior citizens traveling on a budget. Yes, bus stations in many cities, particularly smalller, older cities will be in marginal neighborhoods but anyone using a reasonable amount of common sense can travel by bus between major cities in complete safety. Just my opinion but I've never seen or heard anything to contradict this. I've also never heard of a bus derailing or falling from the sky. Travel has inherent risks regardless of what transport mode is chosen. For me the minor risks are far outweighed by the experience. I visted belize last spring and rode the "chicken buses" between several of my stops. Had a great and interesting ride and met some nice people that shared discussion about their culture. I would not have met them had I been flying or riding in private cabs or shuttles.

joe Sep 26th, 2002 03:55 PM

Owen, pull your head out of your ... and admit the truth, riding a bus in the USA is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Riding a bus in Belize and riding one out of NYC are two entirely different experiences. Sure, go ahead and ride a bus if you want to have interesting conversations with drug addicts, rapists, pedophiles, murderers, etc. And then wait till you get dropped off in the middle of the night with this same bunch. The police routinely do sweeps of the bus lines for convicts and drugs. <BR><BR>Once again, ride a bus at your own risk! You've been warned.

orgy7 Sep 26th, 2002 04:21 PM

the busses are fine and safe. I've never had any probs.. if your on a budget the airplane rout is not the best the flight may not be that bad buting getting into the ciry can be expensive... <BR><BR>most of the fodorites here have never riden a local bus. since it would be beneath them. <BR>and from my experience with auastralian packpackers you guys are a layed back, smart group, so you'll be fine.. <BR><BR>if you can mention how long you'll be here and we can help you on a decent itinualry.. like possibly going too Atlantic ciry.. you can gamble and stay in cheep motels in the ciry. <BR><BR>Of course I'm not too sure if you guys are realy in that much of a budget

Rachel Sep 27th, 2002 01:58 AM

Thanks for everyones replies. Still considering which transportation sounds best. We are looking at 8 days in New York, 8 in D.C. and 4 in Charleston. Does that sound about right?

John Sep 27th, 2002 03:05 AM

I have never taken a bus in Belize but I have taken buses in many other countries, including many parts of the US.<BR><BR>To say that Greyhounds are very dangerous is a blatant lie. Maybe they are not as safe as the train or a plane in the US but you would have to be unlucky or silly to be subjected to a small crime and very unlucky or very thick to be subjected to a major crime.<BR><BR>In fact I think more people got killed on American Airlines last year than on Greyhound buses. Greyhounds are a great way to see the states. You do meet some unsavoury types but that is half the fun.

Roscoe Sep 27th, 2002 03:10 AM

Yes, this is an international person-to-person call for Mrs. Jones.<BR><BR>"Hello, Mrs. Jones, this is Special Agent Roscoe. I'm sorry to let you know that your daughter was talking with some unsavory types on a bus, obviously having a great conversation. But unfortunately at one of the bus stops this same individual brutually raped her before strangling her. But hey, at least she saved some money by not flying!"<BR><BR>

gail Sep 27th, 2002 03:12 AM

Skip the car in both NYC and Washington, DC. If you want to do a day trip from either city, rent a car for the day, but you could reasonably find plenty to do in both cities without a car. Nothing outstanding between NYC and Washington that you "must see". I would vote for the train, but check out airfare if you are flying on a weekend, as sometimes there are great deals - during the week it would be very expensive. Drive or train time between these 2 cities is very roughly 4 hours - flight time an hour - but with check in, airport transportation, the time is very similar.<BR><BR>When you leave Washington, or on your last day or 2 if you want car-accessible day trips, rent a car one-way, drive to Charleston and leave it there. You will pay a supplement for drop-off charges on a one-way rental, but they are not usually horrible. There are more things to see around Charleston area that would not be easy on public transportation.<BR><BR>Have a good trip - I just noticed this trip is over one year off, so you have lots of time for things to change or to ask more questions.

Rachel Sep 27th, 2002 03:18 AM

Yeah I know it's a little over a year away, I just want to know what i have to budget for. Plus I have noticed that alot of the hotels are already booked.

Sue Sep 27th, 2002 03:34 AM

I've taken buses in Ohio in cities near my college. I never had a problem. The buses "might" offer you less flexibility than rental cars. I think trains would be interesting and fun way to see U.S...but I have never taken trains in the U.S. If the train fits into your schedule or route, I'd go that way for part of the trip. I read that Charleston, South Carolina is great place to visit; you can even take a day trip to ocean. It's near ocean and resorts such as Wild Dunes. Personally, I'd allow for more time in Charleston and then to beach...but I'm into the oceans!

Rachel Sep 27th, 2002 03:39 AM

Thanks for that,maybe we will spend more time there. Will it be warm enough for the beach?

Sue Sep 27th, 2002 05:00 AM

Water is 74 Fahrenheit, & air is 76 in October. Wild Dunes Resort is 20 minutes from Charleston. <BR><BR><BR>Have fun!

John Sep 27th, 2002 05:03 AM

To Roscoe<BR><BR>What is your point exactly? Jim says that Greyhounds are extremely dangerous whilst I say they aren't.<BR><BR>You seem to assume that all people can just buy a plane ticket. Did you know that a lot of people who travel have to consider lesser forms of transport. Although I don't want to classify Rachel as a poor aussie, you must realise that a lot of Australians do find the US expensive in comparison to thie own country.<BR><BR>Rachel asked for the cheapest way to get around which is either to hitch hike or take the bus. I would not really recommend hitch hiking although it should be OK with her boyfriend. Therefore the bus is the next cheapest option. Rachel says she has been told to be wary of buses but this is probably due to films like The Hitcher and paranoid comments from fools like yourself.<BR><BR>In comparison to a lot of buses in Latin America, US greyhound buses are very safe. My point is that if you want to travel cheaply you should certainly consider the bus. What is your point?<BR><BR>Just remember not everyone has minted American parents like you who are prepared to pay for flights for their offspring. Or, if you finally do earn your own living by now just remember that there are other people in this world for whom one international flight is a big deal and who simply can not even consider jet setting around the US on a whirlwind tour like alot of Americans can afford to.<BR><BR>By the way Rachel, I would spend less time in DC and more time in Charleston, SC.

KC Sep 27th, 2002 06:03 AM

If I can make a recommendation - if your travel plans aren't set in stone yet, may I recommend starting in Boston and making your way south? Boston is one of the most historical cities in the US. Flights between Boston and NY are about 52 minutes and are slightly over $100 (not sure how much a bus is, but there's an unofficial bus that goes between the cities for ~$20). Autumn is a brilliant time to travel :)<BR><BR>PS - and busses are completely fine. I'd skip the car, unless you wanted to rent one just for the few hours it takes to drive between your destinations.

Ann Sep 27th, 2002 06:46 AM

And I would spend more time in DC and less in Charleston.<BR><BR>Bus travel is very safe. Used to make the trip between DC and NY often, and also used to take Greyhound home when I was at college. Anyone who says it isn't safe obviously doesn't have much experience with the bus system.

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